Prominent citizens in the country have raised over the number of staff at the presidency doing nothing and earning fat salary.

Mbeki remembers a senior civil servant in the presidency telling him that the number of staff in the president and deputy president’s office grew from 300 when he left to 1 000 by 2015.

“I said: ‘Why, what do they do?’ And he said: ‘Nothing; they come to work and they play Patience on the computer, and Solitaire.’

“We would never have allowed a thing like that.”

He also believes government failed to properly study the causes and best responses to the 2008 global financial crisis.

“That was never there. Or, take the NDP: the correct way to have done it would have been to do a review of your economic policies since 1994. Did they work? That review was never done.

The NDP is “not a plan, it’s a vision. There is no plan to implement that vision. It has never been discussed.”

No plan for the economy. And no real plan for land.

On the decision at Nasrec to change the Constitution: “If you put it in the context of the history of ANC policy, this is a big, radical departure. Now if you make departures of that kind, surely you must discuss them properly?”

A decision was rushed through in the final hours of the Nasrec conference.

“People in the ANC like referring to the Freedom Charter, and it is very specific on the land question, that the land will be shared among those who work it. It does not say black, white, settler, no settler. So, has the ANC now departed from this position?”

“Populist” policies are only avoided when existing policy is examined and amended in a rational way, Mbeki says. Instead, race became the focus.

“The thesis [that] there were settlers who came to South Africa, they took our land without compensation, and therefore we must take the land back and give it to our people, what does that mean?